Lionel Messi's Report Card: 2012

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2012

VALLADOLID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga game between Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona at Jose Zorrilla on December 22, 2012 in Valladolid, Spain.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Lionel Messi will have no worries how his report card for 2012 will read. Phenomenal.

While he's lounging around back in Rosario, Argentina with his family for Christmas, let's reminisce on a year which yielded 91 goals for the one the known as La Pulga.

Attendance: A

When Messi was stretchered off against Benfica in a recent Champions League game, most people were wondering if he would get the chance to beat Gerd Muller's record.

Others, were shocked at the thought he could actually be injured. Was he fallible after all?

Of course not. By the following Sunday he was fit to face Real Betis in Seville, where he proceeded to score twice, breaking Muller's record.

He never gets injured and never misses games. Ever-present for both club and country, this calendar year has seen him compete in 69 matches.

Effort: A

While injuries may not be something you would associate with the Argentinean, effort is something you definitely would.

His immense passion to play after game, to score goal after goal, to break record after record does not come as easily as you might think.

You only have to look at players like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho before him, both reached the top, only for their careers to stagnate and regress far too early than they should have.

Messi, admittedly, is still only 25, but his persistence throughout 2012 shows no immediate signs of letting up.

Stats: A

These are so well known that they speak for themselves now.

Lionel Messi has scored 91 goals in 69 games this season. Of those goals, 79 have borne from 60 games for Barcelona and 11 came in nine appearances for Argentina.

They make fascinating reading when compared with the scoring rates of many of the other La Liga sides—not individuals.

Trophies: C

For all the individual feats achieved by Messi this season, his trophy cabinet, in comparison to other years, remains fairly vacant.

With no World Cup or Copa America to compete in, he was reliant on lifting silverware with La Blaugrana.

In a torrid week in April, Barca lost the Clasico, effectively handing the title to Real Madrid before being dumped out of the Champions League by Chelsea in the semi-final.

They did go on to clinch the Copa Del Rey—beating Athletic Bilbao in the final—but began this season by losing the Supercopa to Mourinho's Madrid.

International: B

Mark Lawrenson of the BBC may not be impressed with Lionel Messi's Argentina form, but it has not been all that bad at all.

In nine appearances he has scored 11 times, including five in five in World Cup Qualifiers.

Not quite at his scintillating best, which he demonstrates in a Barca side built to play to his strengths, but still a fruitful year nevertheless. This goal against Brazil was particularly memorable.

Overall Grade: A